11 Bullet Journal Key Ideas Anyone Can Do

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Your bullet journal key is essential for helping you remember the various signifiers that you use to quickly make notes in your planner and check on the status of your to-do list. Check out the wide variety of bullet journaling key ideas anyone can create.

When used to its full potential, a bullet journal is a tool that can immensely help you keep your life organized and on track. You can use it to maintain your schedule, monitor your progress toward goals, set reminder lists for movies you want to watch or books you want to read, and so much more!

However, if you simply fill a blank journal with all of this information, at some point it will run together and just look like a very full journal with words and doodles. And if you’re anything like me, you get lost in the sea of pen on white paper. That’s why bujo users create symbols and add colors to help make their journals easier to read at a glance (and more interesting and creative, too).

Bullet journaling can help you skyrocket your productivity when it’s used to its full potential. If you’re brand spankin’ new to bullet journaling, I suggest starting with my guide for beginners. It’ll show you all the ins and outs and give you an overview of the terms and layouts related to bullet journaling.

An Introduction To The Bullet Journal Key Page

One of the tricks to making your bujo work for you is to create a key for bullet journal pages. So…what exactly IS a bullet journal key?

Your bujo key is sort of like your map legend. It’s your quick reference guide to deciphering the meanings of all of the colors and symbols you use to help make notes in your bullet journal. Not sure what that “X” means? What about the color green? Your bullet journal key can tell you at a glance.

Using symbols and colors helps prevent the need for repeatedly writing out tiny details that can be easily conveyed in another simple way. Hello, time-saving hack!

Unfortunately, if you use more than one or two symbols or colors (let’s face it, you’ll be lucky to use less than 8 or 10!), it can get EASY to confuse them. A bullet journal key cracks the code, so to speak, and keeps all of that information straight for you in one simple-to-create, easy-to-reference guide.

Note: eventually you’ll memorize your codes and won’t use this page very often. However, until that happens, you’ll use this page a LOT!

If you take a look around at bullet journal keys online, you’ll probably notice a couple of things:

  • No two sets of symbols are exactly alike.
  • You can use any symbols or symbol/color system you want to use – it’s your journal!
  • You’re free to make your key as simple or complex as you desire.

Is a bullet journal key necessary?

I completely get it! You want to just go ahead and dive in to start creating, planning, organizing, and more! That is the point of a bullet journal, right?

I’m not one for slowing anyone down. However, I am one for eliminating time-wasting problems and increasing productivity. 

Taking just a little bit of time to create a simple legend of the icons and colors you use will help you quickly identify what your priorities are when you glance at your journal. It’s really about creating a quick-reference system that will save you time and help you increase your productivity too.

What if I want to change my symbols?

Then go ahead and change them! One of the beautiful things about a bullet journal is that nothing is ever set in stone! You can change your codes and/or colors anytime you want.

The only downside is the possibility of forgetting which symbols to use and where. Imagine the confusion your journal will create if intermingle old symbols with new ones! That’s what your bujo key is for. 😉

Bullet Journal Key vs Bullet Journal Index

I often hear people talk about these two pages as if they’re one and the same. A bullet journal key and a bullet journal index are not the same thing. The KEY is like a code-cracking map legend that helps you interpret your bullet journal quickly and easily. 

On the other hand, the bullet journal INDEX is like a Table of Contents in a book. It will list all the types of pages, spreads, and collections you have in your bullet journal and on what page you can find each of them. 

Tips For Creating A BuJo Key That Works

Just like with practically everything else, there are some things that you can do to either make your journal more effective or less effective. Let’s cover a few of them here to help you start on the right foot.

Where should you put a bullet journal key?

Without a bullet journal key page that’s easy to find, you may find yourself needing to create a mini key on every page or at least every couple of pages to help you keep everything straight. That won’t save you time or space!

Since this is a page that you’ll want to be able to reference quickly and easily on a regular basis, your bullet journal key page will be one of the first pages in your bujo. 

What if you forgot to create a key page before diving in and creating other pages? You can add one in anytime (see the example below).

Avoid Using Too Many Signifiers

Do you think using an entire page of symbols will increase your productivity? More is better, right? Wrong! Using too many symbols and colors will actually only serve to confuse you and reduce productivity.

Instead of going all in and creating a very elaborate system, I recommend adopting the less is more philosophy of starting simple and building onto it as needs arise.

Just Get Started

You can spend time researching different signifiers to use, or you can grab your favorite pens, jump in, and just start using symbols and colors that make sense to you. I’m a huge fan of just getting started because there’s no need to try to have some perfect system. 

Your bullet journal style will likely change over time anyway, and systems that other people use may not work for you. Don’t worry about what other people do. Do YOU! 

Bullet Journal Key Examples And Ideas

I’ve gathered a few examples of a variety of bullet journal key ideas simply to give you ideas of the range of possibilities you can use. 

Go Basic

Here’s a great example of a very basic and simple system. Something like this is PERFECT when you’re just starting out! The doodling is completely optional, but give me ALL. THE. MARKERS.

Minimalist Bullet Journal Key

If you just love the look of a minimalist design, this one’s for you! It covers everything you need in a clean and simple format.

Add A Simple Design

Half the fun of a bullet journal is the ability to flex your creativity muscles! Even if you don’t believe you have mad doodling skills, you can create a simple design like this one to add some personality to your bujo.

Create A Collage

Don’t want to put your drawing skills to the test? Create a collage out of pictures, other images, or washi tape then use that collage as the backdrop for your awesome bullet journal key. Tip: you can also use this technique to cover up an old design you don’t like anymore!

Washi Tape For Quick Color

If you love having a colorful bullet journal but don’t want to dedicate the time to doodle and color, washi tape may be the perfect happy middle ground. Available in several different colors and designs, it can quickly provide that quick pizazz you crave.

Embrace Creativity

Your bullet journal key can be very simple, and at the same time, you can let your creativity soar with drawings and doodles. Feel free to make whatever you want, because your journal is for YOU and no one else!

Watercolors Make Instant Art

I love using watercolors because they just naturally create instant art. Whether you stick with simple splotches or use them to paint a design, whatever you make will be unique and beautiful!

Tip: You don’t actually have to use watercolor paints to create this look. You can use markers and then dip a paintbrush into water and dilute the marker ink. Feel free to use multiple colors of markers with this technique!

A Little More Detail

This bullet journal key idea gives an example of a system that offers a little more detail but it’s still simple for easy and quick reference.

Add Your Key Later

Did you forget to create your bullet journal key before adding in all your other pages? No problem! Here’s an example of a way to add it after the fact. Remember, your bullet journal is a flexible planner so you can make changes to it anytime. 😉

Mandala Wild

I’m pretty crazy about mandalas! They’re so relaxing and completely flexible. Keep them monochrome or color them in for some stress-reducing adult coloring. No matter how you approach it, adding a mandala to your bullet journal key idea is a great way to soak in some creative time!

A More Complex System

Here’s a more complex system to give you an example of what it could look like. I still highly recommend starting simple and building up to this over time if you find the need for it. But if you want to see where your bullet journaling system CAN go, here it is.

Can you see why I love bullet journals yet? With just a little creativity, you can make them completely yours and unique. In these examples, you can see that not only are all the surrounding designs different but so are the symbols each person chose to use.

I hope these bullet journaling key ideas inspire you to make a key page you love to refer back to! 

Note: If you want a beautiful journal system and pages you love without the work of designing them, grab my Frankenplanner. I’ve done all the hard work of designing – you get all the fun of coloring and using them!

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